Saturday, September 23, 2006

Day Six, Part II - 16Sept2006


We arrive at our second destination, just past the town of Meredith, beloved of motorcyclists. Another antique group shop we'd been visiting for the past, let's see, about thirty years, perhaps more. Burlwood. Used to be owned by a really nice young couple, and we kind of grew older together, seeing one another year after year. About fifteen years ago they had moved their then-haphazard group shop to this venue, building the long structure specifically to their needs, now housing the shop. Our problem was that they saw fit to sell their business to another young couple several years back.

The new owners steadfastly refuse to permit entry to any dogs. No matter that small-to-tiny dogs can be carried by their owners and present no obvious difficulty. No matter that no other shops have asked us not to enter with our dogs. For the first few years I refused to enter the shop. Actually, I still will not poke about in there, preferring to remain in the car with Button and Riley. It wouldn't even occur to us to leave them unattended in the car and mosey about in our own. And we see other people also who cope with this inconvenience by having one go into the shop and the other remain with their dog. We've remonstrated with the owners, but they remain firm: on the advice of their insurance company.

So it was this time that Irving went in for a look around, at my insistence. Reason being there is quite a lot to see. Plenty of junk, of course, lots of middling stuff, and the occasional really interesting piece which may or may not beg to come home with us. It's a terrific source for jewellery, with countless dealers. Some really very beautiful and often expensive jewellery. I always tried to behave myself there, but occasionally got carried away. That was then. Now, I generally gird myself for the wait while he is looking around by bringing along reading material, and make myself comfortable that way. As long as one of us remains with Button and Riley they don't mind, either.

He exits the shop far sooner than I'd anticipated. But, he says, he's seen all he wants to. He urges me to go in and have a look around, but I'm not interested, I tell him. Then he recounts what he has seen and what has piqued his interest. Two watercolours, he tells me, located on the wall to the left, descending to the basement. Nothing really on the main floor, though he saw some nice jewellery and even thought of buying a ring for me. On the second floor he had seen a small bisque piece and thought highly of it.

Would I be interested in having a look at them? So in I went and had no problem finding the two watercolours, one of which was very oriental in nature, though done with a Western aesthetic. Nice, but no cigar. I didn't think they were worth the relatively modest price tag. Upstairs, and I looked around where he had instructed me but I saw nothing resembling his description. Back out at the car, I suggested that he go back in, speak to one of the many assistants and ask one of them to bring the item out for me to look at.

In a few minutes a very accommodating middle-aged woman came out gently cradling the little group. It was a Bacchanalia, a group of putti holding aloft goblets and the scene a woodland setting dripping with grapes. Oh look, she said, they're drinking something! Aren't they cute! Yes, I agreed, it's a delightful piece, and I looked up at Irving and said I thought it was a good acquisition, in perfect shape, down to the tiny fingers. Sold.

While he goes back into the shop to pay and have it wrapped, I encounter a man whose older van is parked next to our vehicle. I had watched him while waiting, busily taking one item after another out of the back of his vehicle and taking it over to a flat base of something and vigorously cleaning them, then replacing them in his vehicle. Evidently, Irving had been speaking with him while I had been inside looking around, and he more or less resumed their conversation with me.

I stand beside him as he busies himself, and see a what a load of stuff he has. Mostly treen, bits and pieces of old hand-constructed basic housewares of an earlier era. And plenty of newly-fashioned items made to resemble original things of humble origin greatly prized by collectors of primitive wares. He is busy while speaking with me, constantly removing things one by one, to deliver a bit of spit and polish and some basic repair where needed.

Irving returns to stand beside me, and the man tells us he has a small space on the lower floor. This man is genial, interesting and interested in talking. He is rudely dressed, his hygiene slightly primitive, but he more than makes up for this lapse by his energetic and well-informed observations. He wants to talk and discuss world affairs, and he does, in a well-spoken manner. He spouts statistics and findings and talks of information discovered here and there, making up the store of his sources. He appears also, unfortunately, to be given to a naive belief in conspiracy theories.

When we tell him that Canada isn't too likely to agree to being enveloped by the United States as an appendage, nor to permitting our valuable resources to be exploited more than we think reasonable, he says he's relieved to hear that, and he means it. He's enjoying himself, talking about Canada - U.S. relations, the general state of the world, making reference both to new world issues and old stories, happy to debate these issues with us. We agree on some things and disagree on others, both with him, and between ourselves - reasonably.

We discuss the current state of the war in Afghanistan, in Iraq, relations between Islam and the West; immigration, the war in Lebanon with Israel, and issues surrounding sovereignty in general, as well as the ongoing unease in Quebec-Canada relations. He speaks of his personal take on "Bushie's" agenda, and more. It made for an intriguingly erratic exchange of views and interpretations. We parted with a natural appreciation of the others' commitment to remaining informed and opinionated.

We discussed also, before parting, the recently-revealed remarks made by Pope Benedict which have resulted in another round of passionately incendiary denunciations throughout the Muslim world. Certainly made for some animated and animating exchanges of opinion. As we left, he was still chortling over the Pope's remarks and the resulting dilemma.

Deciding to take back roads rather than main highways to the cottage, we took somewhat more time than anticipated driving back. In fact, we became lost. A trifle lost. In that we knew generally where we were, but knew also that we were where we shouldn't have been, according to our intentions. So we had an interesting drive back.

Hard to beat those mountain views.

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